If we consider that the entire thousand-year history of the world consists of continuous pandemics (plague, cholera, Spanish flu, typhoid fever, etc.), then it becomes really scary. What is going on? Because in the ranking of the most dangerous and deadly infectious diseases of the XX-XXI centuries, COVID-19 is not even included in the top three.
We analyzed the list of deadly infections of the past centuries and compared them with the coronavirus.
In the first place in mortality is not plague or cholera, not defeated smallpox, but, oddly enough, tuberculosis. Yes, for which a vaccine has long been invented. Moreover, the vast majority of babies in Russia are vaccinated with it immediately after birth.
Nevertheless, the tubercle bacillus is still the most common infectious agent in the world. And it seems that he is not going to give up his positions.
Every year about 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis on the planet, about 1.5 million die. That is, the regular death from tuberculosis is about 15%. In Russia, according to some estimates, up to 80% of the population is asymptomatic with Koch’s bacillus. Fortunately, most do not show signs of consumption in their entire lives. In total, over the past 100 years, tuberculosis has killed about 100 million people in the world.
2. NATURAL Smallpox
Smallpox is an honorable second place. If she had not been completely defeated, she would have been the first in this sad rating, since in the twentieth century alone over three hundred million people died from her. During some epidemics, the mortality rate was up to 90%.
Thank God, the last outbreak in Moscow dates back to 1959, the smallpox was brought from a trip to India twice by the Stalin Prize laureate artist Alexei Kokorekin. During the unprecedented elimination of the outbreak, all residents of Moscow and the Moscow region were vaccinated, 46 cases of infection were confirmed, 3 people, including Kokorekin himself, died. That’s all.
Despite the fact that it is believed that smallpox, the only infection, has been eradicated as a result of three centuries of vaccination and its last strain is stored seven locks in only two laboratories in the United States and in the Russian Federation, some researchers believe that periodic outbreaks of the disease still occur in countries of the third the world, just nobody diagnoses them. Mortality in this case is 100%, but the reliability of these data has not been documented. Therefore – only the second.
3. BUBONIC PLAGUE
In third place is the bubonic plague. The one that at one time mowed a quarter of Europe. Now they have learned to treat the plague with the simplest antibiotics, and it has lost ground. Mortality varies from 5 to 10%, mortality in case of late detection is about 100%, contagiousness index -1. That is, out of 10 people in the presence of flea carriers, all 10 will become infected.
In fourth place in terms of killer infections of all times and peoples is the famous Spaniard, who, according to various estimates, in 1918-1920, from 0.9 to 5.3% of the world’s population. About half a billion were infected then. The mortality rate from the virus was about 10%, but since the Spanish flu was often confused with typhus or other acute respiratory viral infections, and the treatment due to wars and revolutions left much to be desired, then, according to experts, the number of deaths directly from the Spanish flu is somewhat exaggerated, and the majority of those killed at the modern level of medicine could well have been saved.
According to WHO estimates, in 2009, during the last officially proclaimed epidemic of the same H1N1 virus, so the descendant of the Spanish woman is now boringly called, 18 449 people died. And if not for the former terrible reputation, perhaps, the Spanish woman would not have made it into the rating of deadly infections at all.
5. HEPATITIS B
The fifth place is rightfully occupied by hepatitis B. The annual mortality from it in the world is 500-700 thousand people, but the disease is not seasonal. The carriers are 350-600 million earthlings.
By the way, the likelihood of contracting hepatitis B is much higher than the likelihood of contracting HIV. It is believed that if you drop a drop of contaminated blood into a bucket of water, wet a needle in it and inject yourself, then the contagiousness will be 100%. But getting infected does not mean dying; during the first five years of the disease, only up to 5% of those infected die. In general, the mortality rate from this disease, according to various estimates, ranges from 2 to 5%.
6-7-8. Abdominal typhus, Siberian ulcer, cholera
Typhoid fever, anthrax, cholera are only called so loudly. Their terrible fame is a thing of the past. After the treatment protocols were developed, the risk of these diseases was significantly reduced. Thus, the mortality rate from cholera at the end of the 20th century ranged from 1.8 to 4.7%. The maximum losses were observed in Asia and Africa – up to 9.1%, the minimum in Europe – 1.7%. According to the WHO, there are 3-5 million cases of cholera and 100,000-120,000 deaths from it every year.
Typhoid fever killed 149,000 people in 2015. Death from it in developed countries with modern approaches to treatment does not exceed 0.1–0.5%. In January-October 2017, there was a surge of this infection in Russia, although in absolute numbers it seems “ridiculous” today – only 24 cases.
At the same time, in ancient times and the Middle Ages, it was not possible to save every fourth person who fell ill with typhoid fever. According to historians, one of the most terrible and massive pandemics of the ancient world was the “plague of Athens”, caused just by bacteria from the genus Salmonella. It is believed that typhoid fever was one of the reasons for the decline of the Hellenic civilization.
Anthrax is also quite rare, with infection most often from animals. There are different forms of the disease, but on average, if therapy is started in a timely manner, it almost always ends with a complete recovery. The mortality rate of the disease is estimated at about 1%.
If you remember, the anthrax controversy letters sent a week after the September 11, 2001 attacks to several US media offices and two Democratic senators were a huge stir. Then 22 people became infected, five died. According to the FBI, this investigation has become “one of the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement agencies.”
The only official suspect in the case was government microbiologist Bruce Edwards Irins, who committed suicide during the investigation. Although later they said that his guilt was not proven.
Malaria is only 0.3% fatal. However, in places where it is widespread, and these are the poorest regions of the planet, the death rate reaches 430 thousand cases per year. All parts of sub-Saharan Africa are at high risk.
Last year, Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO malaria program, predicted a high likelihood of an increase in deaths from malaria, “higher than deaths from COVID-10,” mainly due to disruptions in the supply of medicines to where they are needed most.
“Plague of the XX century” – AIDS, the epidemic of which has been going on for more than a dozen years all over the world, with the modern level of medicine, it allows you to live to old age practically without restrictions.
Yes, today in the world there are between 30 and 40 million carriers of the infection, who have died from AIDS and related diseases in 2020 – up to 1 million people.
However, with timely and regular antiretroviral therapy, HIV patients not only lead a normal life, but can also have unprotected sex and give birth to perfectly healthy children. From year to year, the death rate from AIDS is declining and by 2021 compared to 2010 fell by 33%.
One can only sympathize with the inhabitants of medieval cities, since they had little chance of living to old age, bypassing the next epidemic of plague or smallpox.
Against this backdrop, COVID-19 seems to be the strangest pandemic in the history of mankind. First of all, because the maximum mortality from it in the world does not exceed 2%, that is, in terms of the degree of danger, it lags behind even the notorious Spanish flu. But at the same time, if other diseases killed humanity not for a year or two, but for centuries, then the coronavirus has already taken away almost 5 million people in two years. And this is subject to high-tech medicine, the absence of unsanitary conditions, the most closed borders and imposed restrictions. After all, thirty years ago, humanity could not afford to go to a remote location and sit on a lockdown.
Alas, in recent months, despite all the measures taken, the number of cases and deaths is growing. And everywhere. And this does not depend on the level of the country’s well-being.
British scientists estimate that life expectancy has dropped by more than six months in 2020 compared to 2019 in 22 of the 29 countries whose data were analyzed in a recent study by the University of Oxford. Overall, life expectancy has dropped in 27 out of 29 countries, Reuters reports.
The university said most of the reductions in life expectancy across countries could be attributed to official deaths from COVID-19. “The fact that our results highlight such a large impact that is directly related to COVID-19 shows how devastating it was for many,” added Dr. Reedi Kashyap, co-author of an article published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
In the United States, the increase in mortality is observed mainly among people of working age and people under the age of 60, 300,474 people have died so far, and this is 1.82% of all cases.
In Europe, on the other hand, there has been an increase in mortality among people over the age of 60. According to WHO statistics, to date, 1 219 048 people have died, which is 21 people per 1000 cases, or 2.08%.
During the first year of the pandemic, the population of Russia, according to various estimates, decreased by 500 thousand people. Of course, not only from COVID-19, but also from concomitant diseases. Now the situation has deteriorated even more, and now every day, and only from the coronavirus, +/- 800 people die. That is, the mortality rate in the Russian Federation from infection has increased to 4%, equal to typhoid fever, cholera and Spanish flu combined.
If this trend continues, in a year we will lose almost 300 thousand more people, and only those diagnosed with coronavirus. And this is all after the adoption of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of July 2, 2021 No. 400 “On the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation”, in which one of the main priorities for the development of Russia is the increase in life expectancy.